The next round of the ICANN new gTLD program is coming and applicants will need to select a backend registry provider. This publication is not a paid one and I am not pointing to one specific provider. This is just "what I would do" if I needed to select a service provider in the two cases below:
- A backend Registry for a .BRAND new gTLD application;
- A backend Registry for a new gTLD project dedicated to selling domain names, whatever type of application: community, generic or geographic.
Which .BRAND new gTLD Backend registry provider?
When it comes to the price, technically speaking, it is the exact same at the backend registry level. If you have one paid created domain name or 1 million, the process is the same so the price should be to me per domain name: it is the type of pricing I would look for as an applicant. Price can actually be below $1 per domain name created.
I would personally hunt for the cheapest offer at any provider with references. I am familiar with providers' blabla and as long as mine can help me reach out to the interface where I can press the button and create my personalized domain names, OK with me. I would also be careful with things such as ICANN reporting, compliance, monitoring, and escrow: my provider should be able to deal with these questions (note that some have a cost). Also, most backends can help you connect directly at your existing registrar so the technique should not be a problem.
Which new gTLD Backend Registry provider to sell domain names?
What I am going to write should probably not please everyone but this would be my way of thinking if I had to select a backend registry. There is one thing that I noticed about the first round of the ICANN new program: none of the applicants projections were there in terms of sales volumes. A new gTLD applicant who wants to "sell" domain names should select a backend registry that has the capacity to help him sell; and selling is very hard to achieve when creating a new registry. No, you will not sell one million domain names per year in the next round.
There are already many known names in the industry: many ccTLD providers offer such service, Core, Centralnic...but there is one that I am really following closely for this one very specific reason: selling should be the number one objective.
In the first round of new gTLDs and even today, all registries wanted to have their domain names on the number one selling platform worldwide: a Registrar. A Registrar is where domain names are sold to final end users (Registrants).
Yes, there is one major Registrar and it is the number one in terms of volumes. When a registry sells domain names, his domains need lots of visibility and the best visibility to receive is to be present on that number one selling platform worldwide. The problem here is that there are lots of registries, some with niche extensions of no interest, and ALL want to exist at THIS Registrar and at the same time. This Registrar is GoDaddy, it has a small frontpage but it serves the world: it is there where you want to be to sell your domain names fast.
Good news, following the acquisition of another provider, this Registrar is now a Backend Registry too and this is recent.
If a Registry (which includes the choice of a backend registry provider) is not allowed to differentiate Registrars in terms of pricing or whatever other service, it does not mean that it cannot instantly allow his client to appear at his Registrar and it is precisely this that I would negotiate with GoDaddy Registry if I were to become their client: "sign me in but have me at your Registrar in the long run, and on front page for at least a few months".
Remember that not all domain names extensions are available at GoDaddy and there is a reason for this:
- There are too many extensions with low volumes (which also means that they are not profitable enough for GoDaddy),
- Be on front page of GoDaddy is probably not a free service so why would GoDaddy bother about an extension...which is hosted at another backend registry provider? Wouldn't you focus on your client's success instead of those of another provider? Of course you would.
- Also and that is very important, GoDaddy can generate an income thank to its famous Registrar but also now, thank to its backend registry service so again: why bother about adding an extension to its Registrar platform where it would earn on the Registrar service only (selling domain names)?
- Adding a new extension requires time and effort.
What Backend Registry offer I would consider:
- A full offer where the backend registry also submits and follows the submission of my application at the ICANN: not a third party nor a lawyer with no ICANN knowledge.
- Knowledge of my provider about a possible objection and how to face it.
- A capacity to accredit my extension at the backend registry's Registrar(s) if it has any. Note that many backend registries are not public Registrars and Registrars are the mandatory network to sell domain names.
- A provider who has passed the ICANN technical accreditation: if there are more than 1,000 applications in the next round, no one knows if all applications will be submit and validated. What about those new backend registry providers who are not yet accredited by the ICANN: wouldn't it be less risky to select one that is already accredited?
Note that this is a personal thought on how I would think to select a backend registry provider. Since it is yet too early to submit an application, most offers are not available online and even when they will be, not everything will be written so there will be space to negotiate. I also hope this publication will help backend registries to build their offers. Note that some backend registries sold their business...but there are new comers approaching.
How exciting :-)